Friday, August 01, 2003

Rights and Reason: Vatican Condemns Gay Marriage Proposals, Not Gays--Why?

From the Vatican via New York Times:

In its recent Vatican statement, the Roman Catholic Church says that gays "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity." "They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity." This is not, as some have suggested, an expression of hostility towards gays. This is the Church's ideal for all of us, not a special punishment for gays. The church calls upon all people to come to Christ, and upon all Christians to live the virtue of chastity, in other words to live as sexless a life as possible.

Once again, the Catholic Church makes clear that it sees sex not as a celebration of love between two people, a celebration of humanity, but as a human failing to be regretted and to be avoided and censured where possible. The Catholic Church sees sex as a sin, justified only by its effects in propagating the human species. The Church, accordingly, condemns contraception, masturbation, and heterosexual sodomy as well as homosexual sodomy, while denying marriage and therefore any sexual satisfaction to its most devoted followers, the men and women of the clergy.

This fundamental mistake informs every statement and every action by the Church concerning sexuality. The ill effects of the "virtue of chastity" doctrine are seen more clearly the higher one goes in the Church heirarchy. The parish priest who interacts regularly with married couples at least has years of firsthand observations of how healthy sexual and romantic relationships between loving, married couples operate. The bishops, however, interact mainly with other priests, and the cardinals interact largely with other bishops. The sobering fact is that no one in the entire College of Cardinals has any personal understanding of what it is like to love and be loved in a healthy relationship with another person.

Looked at from this perspective, is it more understandable why the Catholic Church in America regarded pedophile priests as good men who strayed from the path, and tried to silence their accusers, rather than as predators who would molest and rape again? Since the Church sees sexuality itself as suspect, is it any wonder they could not distinguish between sex in a loving relationship and molesting an altar boy, treating both as regrettable but forgivable human failings?

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